The Dodgers saw a need this winter and added someone with more than 100 major-league starts in his past. Mark Prior was hired as the team’s new bullpen coach. The team’s starting pitching depth, on the other hand, is made up of young pitchers with far less experience than Prior’s 106 big-league starts in his five seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Five pitchers who each made at least 24 starts for the Dodgers last season are penciled in as this year’s rotation – Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, Alex Wood, Kenta Maeda and Hyun-Jin Ryu. But the Dodgers used 16 starting pitchers in 2015 and 15 in 2016. That dropped to 10 last year, but they used the 10-day DL as a waiting room, frequently parking starters there for the slightest infirmity. Gone from that group of 10 are Yu Darvish and Brandon McCarthy with their combined 313 career starts. Now, the six players behind the projected starting five have a combined total of 41 big-league starts under their belts – 16 each for Ross Stripling (who might wind up in the bullpen) and Henry Owens, and nine for Brock Stewart (another bullpen candidate). Top prospect Walker Buehler, Wilmer Font and Dennis Santana have never started a major-league game. Twenty-one-year-old lefty Julio Urias is a greybeard by comparison with 20 big-league starts. But he is not expected back from shoulder surgery until, most optimistically, late in the season. That number swells if Tom Koehler’s 133 big-league starts are included. But the Dodgers plan to have him pitching out of the bullpen in a prominent role. But Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman says he has no concerns that the lack of experienced starters on the depth chart makes that an area of vulnerability.
Dodgers will rely on young pitchers for starting depth
Orange County Register | Feb 20